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One in 10 new cars sold in 2020 was a plug-in vehicle, and despite overall car sales declining, the proportion of electric vehicles sold continues to rise.

As the focus on fleet electrification increases, it’s important to remember that an electric vehicle on its own is not a panacea for all your cost and environmental requirements.

What often gets forgotten is the role that the driver plays in ensuring an EV is correctly driven and cared for – a badly driven EV will be just as inefficient as a badly driven petrol or diesel car.

With companies adopting an increasing number of electric vehicles, we believe this is the perfect opportunity for employees to receive refresher training on their driving skills and attitudes to the new technology.

The first step is to familiarise your staff with electric vehicles, pointing out the key differences from a conventional ICE vehicle. Some employees feel uncomfortable with new technology, and we are aware of companies which have invested in EV pool cars, only for them to be under-utilised because staff are wary of using them.

This reticence to adopting new technology extends into two of the biggest issues in EV adoption – range anxiety and concern over charging.

Range anxiety can be countered easily – specialist EV training courses set out simple steps your drivers can take to not only be more efficient, but also safer behind the wheel. These include:

l Planning your route in advance to avoid energy-sapping stints on motorways

l Heat or cool your car’s interior while it is still plugged in – this avoids draining the battery

l Try to avoid carrying unnecessary weight, and check tyre pressures regularly

l Use regenerative braking to slow down rather than using the brake pedal

l Try to avoid coming to a stop, so manage your approach to roundabouts/junctions to keep up your momentum

l Learn about the battery-saving features built-in to most EVs, such as ‘eco’ mode which limits performance.

Charging is another area of concern, especially identifying which chargers are both available and suitable. A friend of mine had a Renault Zoe on an extended test drive and ran into problems which have now put him off choosing an EV – the charger he planned to use was only available to customers of the restaurant where it was located, while another had two types of connector which did not fit the Renault which has a Type 2 connector.

This highlights the importance of educating your employees before taking the plunge into widespread EV adoption – some simple coaching and information in advance will make the transition much less of an issue.

Finally, while all the focus is on electrification, let’s not forget about your current fleet of petrol and diesel vehicles. Most companies can still achieve huge gains by focusing on range-extension in conventional ICE vehicles – this is a green issue that can be addressed and implemented now.

Helping create better and safer drivers in your business is an investment that will pay dividends – driver training courses can translate into a 17% saving on fuel use, which is more than enough to cover the cost of the training.

Andy Mitchell, commercial director, RED Driver Risk Management